All Saints: Mentoring Heads to Hollywood

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My dream for the Over My Shoulder Foundation has always been to support and encourage mentoring relationships. We do that by producing stories, events, music, and awards that pay tribute to our own mentors and tell their stories. The journey has been so rewarding, and we have been so very fortunate to meet amazing people committed to making the world a better place. We have featured unique people like the graffiti artist Toofly; author and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis; former heroin addict turned brilliant lawyer, Rick Dyer. Our stories have come to life via Jordan Rich’s nationally syndicated radio show and have been able to tell our story on the website of the acclaimed jewelry company, Alex and Ani.

Today I’m pleased to announce OMSF’s relationship with a fabulous new movie, “All Saints.”  By the time I hit page twelve of the script I could already hear the songs, drenched in mentoring, with a movie score that could inspire hope and mentorship. The producer, Martha Chang, is a long-time friend. Back in the 1990’s we watched a little film project of ours—called 3 Ninjas—come to life and take flight! I’m blessed that this friendship has flourished all these years, and I am truly honored to be working with her again on this amazing project!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director

The Reverend Michael Spurlock and his congregation at All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, know that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

And so does mentoring, as they have come to find out. Spurlock helped a group of impoverished Southeast Asian refugees make their home in the United States while they showed him how to save his dying church at the same time. Now their story is on its way to becoming both a Hollywood movie and an innovative mentoring opportunity.

In 2007, Spurlock made a midlife career change and became an Episcopal priest. His first assignment was to move to Smyrna and close down All Saints, which had lost most of its congregation to a more conservative rival Anglican church. That’s when an unexpected influx of new worshippers appeared: seventy Karen refugees from Myanmar (also known as Burma), Christians forced to flee their country or face possible death.

Rather than sell All Saints, as he had been ordered to do, Spurlock decided to revive the church by utilizing the Karen’s skills as farmers. Despite many formidable obstacles—including drought, floods, lack of equipment and money, and skeptical church superiors—the plan worked. The church was saved, restored to health by this infusion of committed congregants.

A piece about the small miracle in Smyrna appeared in a Nashville newspaper and came to the attention of Steve Gomer, a TV and film director on the lookout for a special kind of story.

“There was a writer I had worked with closely and we wanted to find something to do with a clergy person,” Gomer said by phone from his summer vacation in Vermont. “We thought it would be a good area. I had done some research. When you read about studies that have done with clergy, you see there are similar problems. The kids have problems, the spouses have problems, and they deal with interesting life or death things. We found this article about what happened at All Saints and started looking into that. The more we found out about it the more interesting it became.”

Producer Martha Chang was also keen to work with Gomer—but she was dubious when Gomes told her about the All Saints idea.

“It actually started with Steve saying there are all these Karens in Tennessee,” Chang recalled from her home in Los Angeles. “And I said, ‘No, I think all the Koreans are here in Koreatown in L.A.’ And he said, ‘No, the Ka-RIN, K-A-R-E-N.’  It turns out they’re a minority group from Burma and they’ve been going through a form of genocide, although I believe that’s calmed down quite a bit now. They had been brought here as political refugees.

“Steve said, ‘I think this is a story you’ll really like. It’s about a priest.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure I want to do a movie about a priest right now.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s really about faith.’

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Yolanda Cellucci Receives the 2014 “Designing the Next Generation Award”

 

On Friday evening, September 5, Over My Shoulder Foundation Executive Director Dawn Carroll was thrilled to present Boston design legend Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation Award” during a VIP reception at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.

The “Designing the Next Generation Award” spotlights the importance of mentoring across generations and cultural barriers—not only to the field of design, where it is vital, but also to the work of creating a better society. Founded by OMSF in 2013, in partnership with the Cumar Marble and Granite, the award’s inaugural recipient was Governor Michael Dukakis.

For more than four decades, Yolanda Cellucci has worked tirelessly to translate movie-star glamour from the runway and the red carpet to the streets of America. In that time, she has mentored more than her share of young women and men: fashion designers, interior designers, and local media fixtures—as well as a familiar face.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Friday night also marked the opening of “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” an exhibit of high-fashion gowns that features an all-star lineup of twentieth century designers. Curated by Cellucci herself, the exhibit includes several items from her private collection.

Here are just a few scenes from the event, courtesy of photographer Jim Canole:

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Yolanda Cellucci to Receive the 2014 “Designing the Next Generation” Award


OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and Yolanda Celluci
Yolanda Cellucci (L) with OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll (R)

Waltham, MA – Featuring the designs of Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, Stephen Yearick, Givenchy, and other fashion visionaries of the twentieth century, “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” opens to the public on September 8. Hosted by The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, this special exhibit is curated by Boston icon Yolanda Cellucci.

On Friday, September 5, Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Executive Director, will present Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation” award during a VIP preview of the exhibit. The award, co-sponsored by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite, honors those who cross generations and cultures to mentor the leaders of tomorrow, and was last presented to Governor Michael Dukakis.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “I learned show production and how to navigate the world of glamorous luxury brands. Under her guidance, I learned how to work with political figures, newscasters, and celebrities. We all learned how to be ladies, how to be professional, how to work with all kinds of people. She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. She demanded that you respect yourself and be the very best that you could be. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Yolanda Cellucci founded her famed bridal salon with just a handful of dresses in 1968 and built it into a local institution. She brought couture fashion to the conservative streets of Boston. Forward thinkers like Yolanda sparked the imaginations of designers of all kinds to explore couture, bringing the glitz of Cher and glam of Bob Mackie to the woman on the street.

By the time Yolanda Cellucci closed her shop in 2009, the business included a bridal salon, bridesmaid and couture boutiques, children’s wear, and a full-service beauty salon and spa.

 

More Details

September 5: VIP opening reception, 6 p.m., at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, $25. The reception includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the “Designing the Next Generation” award ceremony. To purchase tickets, visit yolandavip.eventbrite.com.

September 8: Public opening of the exhibit. There is a suggested donation of $10.

October 16: Special exhibit talk with Cellucci at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit yolandatalkcrmi.eventbrite.com.

November 20: Special exhibit talk with Sondra Celli at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit sondracellicrmi.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit crmi.org.

 

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Having It All

6267365751_bb19f7fc47_oAnne-Marie Slaughter, photo © PopTech

When women are asked if they think they can “have it all,” many will say yes. A few usually say, maybe not. It’s still so hard for women to juggle high-pressure careers, family, mental health, friends, and hobbies. They have to stay emotionally stable, stay physically fit, nourish a marriage—oh yeah, then there’s soccer, gymnastics, hockey games…. Can you do it without a team of experts, a house manager, a Nanny, a stay-at-home dad? I personally side with those that say Nope! I could not do it—though maybe I could pretend. But inevitably, something would break. Something would be compromised. When I watch brave women trying to have it all, I can’t help but wonder…

Reading the now-infamous Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was so relieved: here was a very successful woman admitting that there was a problem. I stopped feeling weak, stopped wondering if the grass really was greener. I asked today’s writer, Erica Korff, to give me her view because, when I was her age, there was no stopping me. I was determined to destroy the glass ceiling. Sliding comfortably into my 50s, I wonder whether I should have done things a little differently.

Join the conversation and let us know what you think!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director

“You’ve got the power.” It’s a simple motivational quote one hears throughout their lifetime. “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s what young adults today heard from their parents. But did every kid really grow up with these ubiquitous sayings?

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, grew up in a family whose beliefs were rather different. Her experience shines light on the realities of women and the struggle for equality.

In an interview, Indra talked about her mother’s reaction to her becoming the CEO of Pepsi. One would think that such a high position would garner praise and celebration. “Let the news wait,” Indra’s mother said. “Can you go out and get some milk?” That was her reaction to this life-changing news. “Let me explain something to you,” her mother said. “You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

When Indra was asked in a more recent interview if women can “have it all,” her response reflected her mother’s beliefs and perspective. “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

Indra went into further detail, explaining the challenges of balancing work with her personal life. To her way of thinking, one must choose what they are going to be at a certain time—a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a worker. One cannot be all of those things in a single moment. Perhaps this is true. But does it really mean that women can’t have it all?

“Having it all” may mean something different for each person, but that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Indra’s mother told her that she never had a crown to take home—but Indra did have that crown. It’s a sign that the times are changing. Still, “having it all” does not necessarily mean taking on multiple roles at the same time. One chooses, as from a basket. In Indra’s basket were a husband, two daughters, and a rewarding job. Indra may have to pick and choose at times. But that doesn’t mean Indra hasn’t succeeded; it only means she picks one role at a time, depending on the moment. In the end, she carries them all together.

I decided to ask my mother if she thinks that women can have it all. She has been extremely successful in her career, acting as the Executive Sales Manager for New England Home Magazine. I asked whether she had a mentor. She said she did not. Despite that, her views on the question are rather positive.

“I think that women can have it all,” she said. “I think everyone’s definition can be different. I think having it all can be hopefully having a loving relationship, a family, a job, and friends, and making it all work. It’s harder for women because that’s just the way it is; men don’t have to have that added pressure of ‘Oh I have to take care of the kids,’ so it’s a lot on a woman. I do think women can have it all but it is challenging.”

Next I interviewed my great-grandmother, who turns 102 this September. She’s an amazing woman: intelligent, funny, and very with it. She became a widow at a young age, and had to support the family on her own. An extremely hard worker, she now writes stories to share her successes and accomplishments. When I asked her about having a mentor, and what she thought about women having it all, she told me:

“I had Rabbi Zigmond who sponsored me when I worked at Harvard years ago. He supported me and motivated me. Having a job and having a family are two separate loves. Women can raise a family and have a good job, because it’s not the same kind of love for the work and for the family, but they both can get along.”

The women in my family seem to believe that women can have it all, but they recognize the same difficulties that Indra Nooyi described. It may not be easy, and it may require balance and a plan—but if you believe in yourself and work hard, it can all work out. You’ve got the power!

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Some Kind of Lucky: Vineyard Mentors

This is the time of year when I flash back to 1975 and start singing “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts non-stop. In the summer, I stock up on new books and music, searching for story-tellers with muscular, mind-blowing, mentor-centric tales to feature on the OMSF blog. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and his parents, Martha’s Vineyard has become my creative retreat. The island has its own natural philosophy, and the very first edict is to slow the &#^*@ down, soften up, and unburden yourself. The Vineyard has a way of tranquilizing even the busiest of minds.

Through the snarl of the city, against my workaholic inner voice, I curse and argue, knuckles white on the steering wheel, and aim my car towards the Cape. Once I sense the salt air and drive into the belly of the Vineyard ferry, my nerves start to unwind. On this road trip, the workaholic loses; my artsy self wins. When I reach the secluded island I am a world away—swapping my suit for shorts, my painful high-heels for sandals, unapologetically stripping in the front seat of my car. I’m ready to be surrounded by water, to lose myself on country roads, to sink my teeth into something freshly retrieved from the earth—to be mentored by this amazing earthy way of life. Sun, sand, and salt-spray release the tension in my over-worked mind. The ebb and flow of the surf mentors me to calm, and calm feels so good.

Before I get to the beaches, I stop to grab a bunch of books at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore or Edgartown Books. To become fully intoxicated by my surroundings, I always kick off the read-fest with an island author. These titles almost always come from the local publisher Jan Pogue and her Vineyard Stories. I always—without any research or hesitiation—see films produced by the Weinstein Company, and buy music released by Virgin Records or Geffen Records. That’s how it is with Vineyard Stories. I’m drawn to their artistic taste, and they never let me down. I was delighted when Jan was also able to find time in her crazy schedule to meet me; we’ve become friends since I featured one of her books, Star Child by Kay Goldstein, here at the blog. I admire Jan for her ability to discover a great story as well as her brave, entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that she would become a prized mentor in my fabulous mentor collection.

Lucky cover, lo res jpegOne of the books released this year by Vineyard Stories is Some Kind of Lucky. It was my first summer read of 2014. I completely adore this book. The author, Joan Cowen Bowman, has been coming to the island for fifty years for the same reason I go there: because it offers a simpler existence. Like Joan, I find the mysterious secrets of the island nurturing and healing. Like her, I drift into this magical place and become a better version of myself.

In the book, Joan recounts her life as a divorced woman in the 1960s struggling to raise four children. As a person who watched my parents’ marriage crumble during the 1970s, I know first-hand how unusual that was. A decade after Joan’s divorce, my parents were among the first divorces in our small town. When the news became public, my life changed dramatically. Other families thought we were contagious. We were socially quarantined.

Some Kind of Lucky is like the ocean around the Vineyard: serene, fascinating, and turbulent in turns. Joan and I both return to the island year after year for the star-filled, whisper-soft nights; for the sun-kissed days, the moody early mornings, and the mysterious foggy nights; for the fire-fly ballets and the crumbling stone walls. We have both felt loss at sea in our lives, and both crave for the simpler existence the island presents.

Martha’s Vineyard allows you to lose the signal of the mainland and be still. It absorbs all that you bring to its shores, and then tenderly washes away all the confusion, pain, tension, and toxins. It’s a kind of magic. As the jacket of Some Kind of Lucky reads:“sunrise and moonrise, birdsong at dawn or dusk, the lullaby of the tides as we sleep-all this remind us throughout our days and nights that there is some kind of law and order in the universe.”

 

About the Author

As the co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Dawn Carroll is leading the way in what she calls “mentorology.” OMSF is a unique media-based project on a mission to raise awareness about the lifelong benefits of mentorship. An award-winning stone designer, writer, producer, songwriter, and mentor collector, Dawn believes that mentoring stimulates the creative mind and that creative minds will find the answers to many problems we face today. Mentoring creates leadership skills and stronger, more compassionate leaders.

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